Letter writing tips – write to a theme!
“To write is human, to receive a letter: Devine!”― Susan Lendroth
Writing letters, especially to people we don’t know, which is the case with our Talking to Strangers Project, is not always as easy as it might seem. Especially if we want to write from the heart, to be authentic, real & heartfelt, but even if we want to make someone’s day with something witty or humorous. It can be hard to know where to start!
We have our Beat Poet First Sentence Generator to generate a first sentence ice breaker from the mouths of our most poetic & thought-provoking beat generation writers, for your letters, postcards, cards & emails BUT that’s not for everyone, so we’re putting together a series of blog posts (& letter writing challenges) with some simple, creative tips & prompts to help you get writing.
April is national letter writing month in the US so there’s no better time for our American members to get writing! Hope this helps…
Choosing a theme
Choosing a theme for your letter can really help you get started and give your letter a focus. Make sure you include the theme in your letter, ideally as the first sentence. so your reader understands what it is you’re writing about. Here are some theme suggestions –
- Something I’ve always wanted to do, but never have is…
- Something that made me laugh out loud this week…
- Something I’ve learnt about life is…
- What makes me get out of bed in the morning
- What love means to me …
- If I had to explain reality TV to alien visitors…
- If I could phone a God, I would tell them…(thanks to Ellen Degeneres for this one)
- What/who my dog (cat, other pet) thinks I am…
- If I could save only one thing from my home other than family members it would be…
3 week Letter Writing Theme Challenge!
I’m super excited about launching our Letter Writing Theme Challenge to help all of the members of our Talking to Strangers Project community get writing & sharing their stories, hearts, & minds with other members right around the world, to help bridge the isolation gap.
In a nutshell –
When you sign up to the challenge you will receive a new theme in your inbox each week for 3 weeks. Your challenge (if you choose to accept it) is to write a letter, postcard, card or email in our mailroom each week using the theme you receive, to another TTSP member.
Win a copy of Letters of Note
There is no deadline for signing up to the challenge but members who complete the 3 week challenge before May 31st, 2019, will be in the running to win a beautiful, hardback, full-colour copy of the best-selling Letters of Note, a collection of notable letters from around the world & throughout history.
You need to be a Talking to Strangers Project Member to take the challenge. Not a member yet? No problems! Register here now – it’s, quick, easy & FREE!
Letter writing inspiration
With each letter writing blog, we’ll bring you an inspiring example of a great letter, whether it’s sad, joyful, heart-felt or hilarious, we hope it gives you the inspiration to write. Remember letters don’t have to be long, our postcard messages can only be a maximum of 650 characters (that’s about 80-100 words) – sometimes it’s harder to write shorter letters, than it is longer ones.
This Letter is by musician Fiona Apple, writing to her South American fans about why she had to cancel her tour. It’s called “She is My Best Friend” & it’s about her relationship with her pet pitbull. Enjoy & be inspired 🙂 (Transcript below)
It’s 6pm on Friday, and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet. I’m writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.
Here’s the thing.
I have a dog, Janet, and she’s been ill for about 2 years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now. I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then — an adult, officially — and she was my kid.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.
She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.
She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We’ve lived in numerous houses, and joined a few makeshift families, but it’s always really been just the two of us.
She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head.
She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me, all the time we recorded the last album.
The last time I came back from tour, she was spry as ever, and she’s used to me being gone for a few weeks, every 6 or 7 years.
She has Addison’s Disease, which makes it more dangerous for her to travel, since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death.
Despite all this, she’s effortlessly joyful & playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago. She is my best friend, and my mother, and my daughter, my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is.
I can’t come to South America. Not now. When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference.
She doesn’t even want to go for walks anymore.
I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people.
But I know she is coming close to the time where she will stop being a dog, and start instead to be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.
I just can’t leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.
Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes just to decide what socks to wear to bed. But this decision is instant.
These are the choices we make, which define us. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love & friendship.
I am the woman who stays home, baking Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable & comforted & safe & important.
Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life that keeps us feeling terrified & alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments.
I need to do my damnedest, to be there for that.
Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known.
When she dies.
So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and I am revelling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel. And I’m asking for your blessing.
I’ll be seeing you.
Fiona Apple via Letters of Note